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Models and Representation

Frigg, R; Nguyen, J; (2017) Models and Representation. In: Magnani, L and Bertolotti, T, (eds.) Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. (pp. 49-102). Springer: Cham, Switzerland. Green open access

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Models are of central importance in many scientific contexts. We study models and thereby discover features of the phenomena they stand for. For this to be possible models must be representations: they can instruct us about the nature of reality only if they represent the selected parts or aspects of the world we investigate. This raises an important question: In virtue of what do scientific models represent their target systems? In this chapter we first disentangle five separate questions associated with scientific representation and offer five conditions of adequacy that any successful answer to these questions must meet. We then review the main contemporary accounts of scientific representation – similarity, isomorphism, inferentialist, and fictionalist accounts – through the lens of these questions. We discuss each of their attributes and highlight the problems they face. We finally outline our own preferred account, and suggest that it provides the most promising way of addressing the questions raised at the beginning of the chapter.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Models and Representation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-30526-4_3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-30526-4_3
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Scientific Representation, Model User, Target System, Scientific Model, Semantic View
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10110967
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